Okay, the echoing bell of repetition is ringing louder as I continue reading in the first half of Titus 3 this morning. I’ve already encountered its peal a couple of times so that when it rings this morning, I’m primed to pay attention. (I look ahead and I’m going to encounter it again for a fourth time before I’m finished reading Titus).
The inescapable message of these repeated words? That the gospel is not just something that tells us how to be saved for a better life someday, but it is the power of God which will radically rewire us for a life of good works today.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
(Titus 2:7-8, 11-14; 3:8, 14 ESV)
Good works. Good works. Good works. Good works. Come on people, tell me we aren’t saved for good works.
Paul told Titus he was to model it. He says grace appeared to redeem us so that we might be zealous for it. That believing in God will make us careful and want to learn how to be devoted to it. It = “good works.”
Beautiful deeds. Honorable actions. Everything our hands produce praiseworthy by reason of a heart which has been made pure and a life which has been declared holy. All that we accomplish having about it an air of other-worldly, enduring quality as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, being transformed by the renewing of our mind, becoming conformed increasingly into His likeness. The aroma of Christ on us impacting everything — yes, everything — done by us.
Modeling good works. Zealous for good works. Devoted to good works. Learning to let the Christ, who lives in us, live through us so that all we do are good works. Thinking that’s some of the fruit of new life in Christ.
If we are not marked by a desire for good works, can we really have confidence that the gospel has authentically left its mark on us?
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(James 2:14, 17 ESV)
Not that we are to muscle-out good works in order to be saved. Paul’s clear, “He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness” (Tit. 2:6). Rather according to His mercy and grace, “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”, He justified us by grace and called us to be heirs according to “the hope of eternal life.”
But Paul is equally clear–and repetitively clear–that when this happens in a person’s life, they will be careful to devote themselves to good works.
Only by His transforming grace. Only for His all-deserving glory.